The Anthropology of Football


  • Ivan Kovačević Department of Ethnology and Anthropology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Serbia
  • Bojan Žikić Department of Ethnology and Anthropology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade, Serbia



football, anthropology, culture, economy, cultural identity, Serbia


Anthropological interest in football has been on the rise since the beginning of the century, which can be attested to by the rising number of studies, papers, collective publications and scientific conferences on the topic. Seeing as anthropology is no longer the study of the culturally bizarre and exotic, it is clear that the first anthropological studies of football as a cultural phenomenon are linked to those environments in which football figures as an important cultural trait, which is the reason why this sub discipline thrived in Europe or in places where football was treated as an esoteric phenomenon and where there as a longer tradition of anthropological study of native cultures. From the first analogies between the game of football and its rules with rituals of so called primitive cultures, the anthropological study of football developed into a relatively encompassing approach which includes interest in all the actors who establish the game as a public, cultural good – players, experts, supporters, journalists, organizers etc. – as well as its various cultural manifestations, in the form of a tool for the construction of identity and cultural symbol, a leisure activity with ties to economy, to a specific apotheosis of the concepts of globalization and commodification of culture. Anthropological studies of football are present in Serbia as well, and their subject matter corresponds to the role and position held by football, as a cultural artefact, in Serbian society and other countries in the region.


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How to Cite

Kovačević, Ivan, and Bojan Žikić. 2014. “The Anthropology of Football”. Etnoantropološki Problemi / Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 9 (3):783-803.

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